A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student appears to be forgetful, forgetting homework, forgetting newly learned information, and the like.
Cognitive/Self-Regulatory Possibility:
Difficulty with transfer of learning (generalization)

Step 1: Organize observations relevant to the problematic behavior/issue

  • Who is reporting the problem?
  • When does it occur? (Include time of day, activities etc).
  • Where does it occur?
  • What tends to precede the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What tends to follow the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What is the age and functioning level of the student?
  • Previous documentation/charts?

Step 2: Identify possible contributors to the problematic behavior/issue

In many cases, there are several contributors to the student’s identified problem. These contributors may interact with each other, therefore, it may be necessary to combine tests from different categories of possibilities. The existence of several interacting contributors may become obvious as you proceed through individual intervention experiments.

Difficulty with transfer of learning (generalization): Some students may have difficulty with memory/retrieval as a result of difficulty transferring what they have learned to a new setting or activity. (See Tutorial on Transfer/Generalization)

Relevant observations: The student may routinely appear to have learned information or a skill, but not appear to possess the information or skill in a different setting, with new people, or under new circumstances (e.g., a different activity).

Useful experiments for assessment and intervention:

  1. Observe and record the frequency and/or intensity of the problem behavior when a new teaching strategy or support is being implemented versus when it is not being implemented.
  2. Possible transfer-related teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorial on Transfer/Generalization; Instructional Routines): Create an instructional environment that facilitates transfer. This may include (a) teaching the information or skill in a variety of settings, with a variety of people, and in the context of a variety of activities; (b) systematically expanding the settings and activities in which use of the skill or information is facilitated; ( c) cuing the skill or information in settings and activities other than the teaching settings and activities. In ways such as this, ensure that the student has every opportunity to demonstrate acquisition of a skill or information in many settings, with many people, and in the context of many activities.
  3. If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, it may be that the problem behavior is in part a result of difficulty with transfer or generalization. (See Tutorials on Transfer; Instructional Routines.)

Possible referrals: Instructional support specialist for instructional strategies

A program of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

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The Brain Injury Association of New York State
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